French clubs to skip games in tax protest
PARIS (AP) - French football clubs have unanimously agreed not to play any matches over one weekend at the end of November to protest against government plans for a super-tax on players' salaries.
France's professional clubs held an extraordinary general meeting Thursday to decide the next steps in their campaign against the government's plan to implement a 75-percent tax law for those who earn more than 1 million euros ($1.38 million) per year.
Under the decision announced Thursday by Jean-Pierre Louvel, president of the Union of Professional Football Clubs, the league round scheduled for Nov. 29-Dec. 2 will not be played.
''It's a historic moment for French football. The whole of football has taken a very important decision,'' Louvel said. ''We're talking about the death of French football. That's why we are fighting and we will continue to fight.''
Representatives of the clubs will meet with French President Francois Hollande next week to further discuss a solution to the situation. Louvel did not rule out further action being taken after the weekend of cancelled games.
The last time games were boycotted in the French league was in 1972, but that was at the initiative of the players, the clubs' union said.
The decision received the backing of French league president Frederic Thiriez, who was also present at the meeting.
''The decision unanimously taken today shows that the tax that the government wants to impose has awoken all of our sensibilities,'' Louvel said.
The tax was a campaign promise from Hollande, who pledged to rein in what he said was excessive executive pay out of line with the struggling economy. The tax is only supposed to be in place for two years, starting retroactively this year, and the government expects it to net 420 million euros ($580 million). It would cost clubs 44 million euros ($60 million) over that period.
''It's not the players who are taxed but our businesses,'' Louvel said. ''How can you tax businesses that have been in difficulty over the last three or four years? And why have they been? Because the taxes we've been paying are too high. And people ask why we're not competitive with other leagues.''
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